10 Best bikes in Bond films

Author: Phil West Posted: 22 Oct 2015

10 Best bikes in Bond films

On the eve of the premiere of the eagerly awaited new James Bond film, Spectre, on Tuesday, we wondered which have been the ones with the best bike sequences…

1. Honda CRF250R/Skyfall (2012)

Bond chases baddies on a Honda CRF250R

Until this week’s release of Spectre, Skyfall had been universally acclaimed as possibly the best Bond flick ever. It’s also has the best motorcycle sequence. In the opening scene Bond (Daniel Craig) chases baddie Patrice (Ola Rapace) across the rooftops of Istanbul, both aboard Honda CRF250Rs. Stunt star Robbie Maddison did most of the riding although Craig did some. The two Hondas, incidentally, are now on display at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

2. Yamaha XJ650 Turbo/Never Say Never Again (1983)

Sean Connery as Bond rides a mildly disguised Yamaha XJ650

It’s easy to dismiss NSNA. It’s the only ‘non-official’ Bond, a remake effectively of Thunderball; 53-year-old Sean Connery wears a toupe and it’s got Rowan Atkinson in it, ferchrissakes. But it’s also the only Bond in which our hero rides an official, Q-branch supplied, gadget-lavished motorcycle, a mildly disguised Yam XJ650T complete with knobblies and rocket launchers. Bond, meanwhile, wears a Tux and ‘80s Nava polycarbonate lid. Remember them?

3. Cagiva W16 600/Goldeneye (1995)

Brosnan's Bond debut on a W16 Cagiva

The W16 surely ranks towards the top of all the bikes you’d never expect to see in a Bond flick, but the Italian trailie stars in the opening sequence of Pierce Brosnan’s debut as Bond, in Goldeneye. In it, Bond nabs the Army spec Cagiva and uses it to chase after a pilot-less Cessna as he bids to escape a Russian military facility while being chased by the usual baddies.

4. Montesa Cota 4RT/Quantum of Solace (2008)

You’d probably forgotten after all the hullabaloo surrounding Skyfall, but bikes, or, more specifically, A bike, a camouflaged Montesa Cota 4RT trials machine fitted with a different tank and seat, also stars briefly in the preceding Quantum of Solace when Bond (Craig again) pursues ‘Camille’ (Olga Kurylenko) through the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The stunt riding, this time incidentally, is by 11-times British MX champion-turned-stuntman Rob Herring.

5. Yamaha XT500/For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Roger Moore rides a Yamaha XT500 in For Your Eyes Only

In truth, not one of the best Bonds, not least because star Roger Moore was by then 54 and at one point cringingly seduces teenage character Bibi Dahl. In its defence, however, at least there’s a half-decent bike chase when two villains aboard Yamaha XT500s (fitted with machine guns, natch) pursue a skis-clad Bond down a bobsleigh run (as you do) and across a few mountains.

6. BSA Lightning 650/Thunderball (1965)

Bond baddie Fiona Volpe rides a BSA Lightning 650

We all like a good baddie. Even better if the baddie’s a beautiful leather-clad woman riding a motorbike, which is where Thunderball scores in spades. In it, villain Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) rides a gold faired BSA Lightning 650 after some assassins before promptly dispatching them with some rockets. Go girl. She then bins the bike in a nearby lake. In truth the riding was by ‘60s star racer Bill Ivy.

7. Kawasaki Z900/The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The Kawasaki Z900 in The Spy Who Loved Me was fitted with an exploding sidecar

What is it about the Roger Moore Bonds? In any other era a sequence where a baddie aboard a Z900 chased Bond in a Lotus Esprit would be majestic. In TSWLM, however, the Z900’s fitted with some kind of detachable, explosive sidecar, the Esprit comically turns into a submarine and the villain’s cliff death plunge would look more realistic if it was done with Lego. Still, at least it also features the debut of the first Wet Bike, which Moore actually rides.

8. BMW R1200C/Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Brosnan's BMW R1200C in Tomorrow Never Dies

Possibly the worst choice of Bond bike ever. Which makes you wonder:  Did someone say: “Bond needs a motorcycle, let’s give him a cream-coloured German cruiser”. Or, more likely, did BMW say “Put our lovely new bike in your movie and we will give you lots of money”. Seeing as Brosnan’s Bond also drives a remote-controlled 750iL in TND I know which I believe. Still, at least the C gets written off at the end…

9. Harley-Davidson 350SS/Live And Let Die (1973)

Police on Harley-Davidson's 350SS pursue Bond in a bus

No, I never realized there were bikes in the otherwise speedboat and voodoo-fest that is LALD and in truth it’s fairly marginal, but worth a mention nevertheless. It happen when Bond (Moore) and Solitaire (Jane Seymour) escape in a double decker bus only to be pursued by three police aboard, of all things, Aermacchi H-D 350s and, no, they don’t get very far…

10. Norton Dominator/Spectre (2015)

Machine guns on a Norton Commando 961 will feature in Spectre

We’ve yet to see the new Bond, Spectre, as we write and, in all honesty, are not expecting much by way of motorbikes this time round. We DO, however, know of one little treat: a snatched glimpse of special Q-branch-developed Norton Dominator, complete with machine guns, which can be seen in the background in one scene. The guy to be seen working on the bike, BTW, is none other than Norton CEO Stuart Garner himself.

Any other favourites?  or !

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